IRS Issues Warning for Email Scam Targeting University Students, Staff

With tax season upon us, the IRS has issued a warning regarding an impersonation email scam targeting university students and staff.

In recent weeks, the IRS said, scammers have been impersonating agency staff and specifically targeting individuals with a “.edu” email address. The warning said that the fake emails use IRS emails and employ various subject lines, including “Tax Refund Payment” and “Recalculation of your tax refund payment.” Scammers then ask would-be victims to click a link and submit a form to claim their refund.

Once on the phishing website, taxpayers are prompted to provide their Social Security number, first and last names, date of birth, prior year annual gross income (AGI), driver’s license number, current address, city, state/U.S. territory, ZIP code/postal code, and their IRS Electronic Filing PIN.

The IRS warns that people should not click on the email, but asks them to send the email to the IRS’ phishing scam email address – phishing@irs.gov or forward the email as an attachment to phishing@irs.gov. It further noted that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and IRS Criminal Investigation have been notified about the ongoing scam.

Scams coinciding with tax season are nothing new. Further, the IRS has noted an uptick in phishing scams during the COVID-19 pandemic around stimulus payments. Around this time last year, three Democratic senators wrote to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to urge the agency to implement past Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommendations to protect Americans from COVID-19 coronavirus fraud.

More recently, the Department of Justice (DoJ) issued a warning regarding fake unemployment websites after receiving reports that scammers created the websites to obtain consumer’s personal information and other sensitive data. The DoJ said scammers are sending out phishing messages via text and email to look like they’re from a state workforce agency, containing a link to a fake website.

Kate Polit
About Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs